Let’s Talk Food: National Noodle Day is today

Today is National Noodle Day, and Marugame Udon, based out of Tokyo, with a location in Honolulu, is offering customers to bring in their receipts for a free Kake Udon with a purchase during a future visit from Oct. 7-21. Marugame Udon also has locations in California and Texas.

“Udon noodles are just fun to eat — they bounce and pop in your mouth as you chew them, and you feel joy with every chewy, tender bite.” said Marugame Udon President and Chief Strategy Mark H. Brezinski. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate National Noodle Day than by slurping up our fresh, authentic, handmade udon noodles.”

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Slurping noodles is a custom that goes back more than 400 years, and there are two reasons why it is done. Slurping actually enhances the flavor of the food by allowing the noodles and air into the mouth at the same time. This is like tasting wine — we swirl the wine in the glass to incorporate air and increase the fragrance, and then slurp the wine to taste it. The second reason is because noodles start going soft and start losing their “bite,” so slurping, thereby also eating them quickly, allows you to eat them before they overcook.

So what are the different types of udon?

Hot udon dishes include:

• Kake udon is the simplest udon and has only green onions on top with the noodles and broth.

• Tsukimi udon translates to “gazing the moon” because there is a raw egg on top, with the egg white representing clouds and the yolk representing the moon.

• Kamaage udon are boiled noodles with some of the water in which they were boiled. Soy sauce is poured over or the noodles are dipped in some sauce or tsuyu.

• Kamatama udon has a raw egg cracked on top with very little liquid. If you want, you can add some soy sauce.

• Bukkake udon are boiled udon noodles with no sauce or tsuyu.

• Kitsune udon has broth and is topped with aburage or fried tofu.

• Tanuki udon has broth and is topped with bits of crunchy tempura batter bits.

• Curry udon’s broth is curry-flavored.

• Niku udon has broth and is topped with stewed beef and usually served hot, but during hot summers, can be served cold.

• Kenchin udon is a popular winter dish with daikon, carrots, burdock, taro, konnyaku and tofu simmered in the broth.

• Chikara udon is topped with roasted mochi cake. When mixed with the noodles, it creates a sticky texture.

• Tempura udon is topped with tempura, usually shrimp, but is called kakiage udon when a combination of shrimp and vegetable tempura is used instead.

• Yaki udon is pan fried udon with a variety of seasonings.

• Nabeyaki udon is udon stewed in a pot and topped with a variety of ingredients such as tempura, vegetables and eggs.

Served cold, the varieties are:

• Zaru udon is served on a bamboo tray, or zaru, and the udon is dipped in cold tsuyu.

• Hiyakake udon has cold broth poured over the cold noodles.

• Hiyashi bukkake udon, similar to hiyakake udon but topped with green onions and grated daikon radish.

• Salad udon is cold noodles with vegetables such as lettuce and tomatoes on top.

I have great memories of my father making fresh udon. There are only three ingredients: flour, water and salt. There is nothing better than fresh udon noodles if you have the time, it is worth it. Kneading is difficult and that is why we waited for our dad to make it for us.

During a recent trip to Japan, I bought udon flour and a udon rolling pin for my son, Dean, to make fresh udon like his grandfather made.

Udon Noodles

120 grams udon flour

70 cc water

12 grams salt

Udon flour for dusting

Combine the water and salt to make a brine solution. Add udon flour to a separate bowl and slowly add brine a little at a time.

Gently mix in brine by hand until completely absorbed into the flour. When the consistency is dry and crumbly, form the dough into a ball.

Place dough on a flat surface lightly dusted with flour. Knead the dough.

When the dough is a nice, stretchy, consistency, cover with plastic wrap (to prevent drying) and allow to rest for two hours.

Place rested dough on a floured, flare surface and roll out into a square shape. Wind the rolled out dough around the rolling pin and proceed to roll again on the pin to flatten further.

Unroll the dough from the pin, and continue using the rolling pin to flatten until the dough reaches 3 mm in thickness.

Fold the dough gently into thirds. Slice across folded dough with a large chopping knife (there are special noodle cutting knives in Japan) in 3 mm increments. To be sure that the noodles all cook evenly, the cuts should be all the same size. To prevent the noodles from sticking to each other, after cutting, unravel them and place them flare before boiling.

Boil noodles for 15-18 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.

Foodie bites

Kipimana Hawaiian Granola’s Coconut Macadamia Granola with Turmeric took first place in the International Flave Awards. Last year, Kipimana’s Macadamia Granola with Ginger took first place and the Coconut Macadamia Granola took second place.

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“Kipimana” is the Hawaiian pronunciation of “Shipman.” Great job, Barbara Anderson, for creating such wonderful granola!

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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